Inspirational Seconds

9.6 tips to avoid the perfection complex

welcome-to-perfection copy

Perfectionism is a very personal topic that I’ve struggled with since first grade. My parents still remember the story of my teacher warning them of my perfectionist tendencies. If I got anything less than 100% on an assignment, I fell into a downward spiral of frustration, anxiety and sadness. I was a high achiever in all my school years, but was never satisfied and very hard on myself. Decades later, it’s been one of the largest challenges to overcome, but I’m happy to say I can now identify and control it. Being a prisoner to the perfection complex can leave you feeling trapped in your own world. Your constant pursuit of “perfection” can adversely make you feel unworthy, irritable and downright depressed. Sounds counter-productive, no? Shouldn’t the perfect life make you happy? Then why does the pursuit of perfection have the opposite effect for some? It’s not the pursuit, it’s the expectations you set on yourself.

The man with insight enough to admit his limitations comes nearest to perfection.
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The definition of ‘perfect’ according to Google:
–the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.
–the action or process of improving something until it is faultless or as faultless as possible.
There’s a LARGE difference between 100% faultless and as faultless as possible. Most people define “100% flawless” as perfection, so that’s what I’ll refer to.

Here are 9.6 tips and a re-framing that guided me in letting go of the impulse to be perfect every day of my life.

  1. Realize perfection is a deceiving mind game
    Everyone has their definition of perfect. Since there’s over 7 billion definitions, whose standard is right? And since no human is perfect, then we’re imperfectly defining perfection! It’s deep, but true. No one, not even the most successful business person, influential spiritual leader or self-less humanitarian is perfect. We all stumble, err in judgement and fail. Unchain your mind from this toxic mindset and be glad no human is perfect. Could you imagine the world if there was? Whew, thank God for that.
  2. Learn from failures
    You will fail. It’s inevitable. If you understand this and use failures as learning experiences not a blow to your ego, you will take a closer step toward self acceptance. We were meant to screw up, but out of mistakes come the best inventions, insight and information that has changed the world. Failure is part of the success equation toward excellence.
  3. Avoid the comparison game
    This can be tough. We’re constantly bombarded by beautiful models, millionaires with extravagant lifestyles and families who can do no wrong. If you’re striving to have a lifestyle like these folks, remember, behind the scenes, they’ve messed up too. We’ve already established no human is perfect, including everyone you see in the media. Comparing yourself to others is a quick way to forget what strengths you bring to the table. Speaking of strengths, beware of comparing your weaknesses to others’ strengths!
  4. Control what you can control
    You’ve planned everything to a tee, triple checked all details and inevitably, something outside your control happens. It happens because it can. Kids will misbehave, foul weather will come and someone will trip on the stairs in front of 700 people. Life will not unfold perfectly, but will unfold the way it’s meant to be. If you limit your urge to control everything, your mind will relax. Life can’t be controlled, only lived.
  5. Have faith
    This mindset has helped me the most. Have faith in God, your heart, your instinct, whatever you call it. Believe in yourself and your capabilities. Things happen for imperfect reasons, but in the end we must have faith to believe they happened for a good reason. This goes back to viewing failure as opportunity for growth and learning. Believe those imperfect moments were put in front of you to grow, not to look bad.
  6. Keep your goals realistic
    I’m going to lose 20 pounds in 5 days! I’m going to go from janitor to Vice-President tomorrow! I’m going to run a marathon with 4 days’ worth of training! These are excellent goals, but lack perspective and a good dose of realism. I had a habit of setting myself up for failure by creating lofty goals and missing them by miles. For a perfectionist, feelings of frustration, unworthiness and insecurity quickly ensued. True goals include realistic, measurable and specific objectives. Stick to these characteristics and watch your level of success increase sans the cruddy feelings.
  7. Celebrate your successes
    While we’re on the topic of success (and you will succeed), don’t forget to reward yourself for an accomplishment. This sounds simple, but I still struggle with this one. Have pride when you’ve done something well, even if it wasn’t “perfect”. Look how well you organized the closet, finished that tough project or dressed for that event. You’re allowed to bask in your own awesomeness at times, it’s ok. The pressure of perfection will ease up when you congratulate yourself on a job, no matter how well done. If you don’t occasionally celebrate, even if it’s internally, you will continue having the negative mindset of: achievement = zero upside.
  8. Forgive yourself
    We’re getting into the tough ones now. Perfectionists can be very hard on themselves because they’re not ‘perfect’. We’ve already established no human is perfect, so throw that expectation out the window. Without the expectation of being perfect, you’ll have an easier time forgiving yourself when you do something less than desirable. Take a deep breath, admit something went wrong, learn from it and move on. Let it go and understand you’re still only human.
  9. No one else wants you to be perfect
    This makes me smile. As a recovering perfectionist, I realized one day, no one wants me to be perfect! Picture being in a relationship or a co-worker that never made a mistake. Ever. How about a leader that never made a wrong decision or prediction?  That’s quite unrelatable to other folks, isn’t it? If I wrote this blog in strictly perfect and articulate grammar, wouldn’t you wonder “Does she really talk like that?”. I don’t want the 100% perfect boyfriend because I couldn’t relate to his “perfectness”. Plus, that would be downright creepy.

9.6   I encourage you to practice these principles every day. As we all know, practice makes…an ex-perfectionist!

“I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.”
― Michael J. Fox

I hope these 9.6 suggestions help break your never-ending cycle of perfectionism. Instead of perfection, try pursuing excellence. It’s a much better deal and you’ll love the results.

Inspirational Seconds

Pick your battles now

I’m writing to you from a hotel room in Milwaukee way past 1am.  Today, I chose to wake up around 6am, drive over an hour to meet my friends to jump in their car for a 7 hour drive to Milwaukee.  Rest  stops, Chicago traffic and construction added to the flavor of the adventure. The hotel arrival includes even more friends greeting us with hugs, smiles and laughs.  These folks aren’t just acquaintances, they’re people striving for positive growth in their lives who have become close friends over the years. They picture a more fulfilled, purposeful life out there.

We descended on Milwaukee because that’s where the leaders are. We’re part of an association that organized a large leadership seminar reserved for people wanting to improve their lives and the lives of others.  We want more out of life than what the status quo has in store for us if we don’t keep growing. We understand life is meant to be lived to the fullest not with feelings of settling or feeling trapped. We learn from others with successful lives in many aspects like finances, relationships, health, leadership and spirituality.

Our Friday night session focused on dream and purpose, my favorite topic. Since it’s now 1:45am and I’d prefer to be coherent tomorrow, I will make my point brief. Each speaker came from various parts of North America with different stories to tell. However, they always have laser focus when it comes to pursuing their dreams and passions. The key to their success was obvious. Constant consistency toward the pursuit of your passion and purpose =success. Many of the thousands in the arena could relate perfectly to the message while others probably sat back pondering “What in the world IS my purpose???”

As the leaders poured their hearts out and I pictured my ideal life, I was reminded that anything in life is attainable, you just have to want it bad enough. You have to wake up before sunrise to jump in a car with some friends. You have to sit through construction and later encounter strange people at rest stops. By all means, you should narrowly zip in between semis in the middle of dead-stopped Chicago traffic praying you get to the hotel in one piece. (No, I wasn’t the one driving.)

The most joyous, happiest people pursue their purpose at all costs. They do it because something inside calls them to keep going, to keep pushing. They do the necessary things, no matter what it looks like to the outside world, because it’s their dream, no one else’s.

The trip could’ve been worse. We could’ve all stayed home. We could’ve said we’re not driving that far. We could’ve made a lot of decisions against pursuing personal growth opportunities.  But we didn’t. When was the last time you took your dream pursuit a little farther? When did you take that extra crazy step closer to that goal? Have you stayed up til 2am working on those little things that lead you to your ideal life? Maybe it’s time to battle some traffic. Your dreams are worth it.


Leadership Tales from the Cube

Walk away from the zone of comfort


I recently read some blogs conveying negative feelings on self-help or self-development. Many said they were fully capable of helping themselves thank-you-very-much then stating a majority of people who read self-help materials never put anything into action. I find this quite interesting because I grew up learning the contrary. It’s been said leaders are readers. The most successful people today are avid readers, many in the personal growth categories. They’re reading materials and following others who have fantastic results in spirituality, finances, relationships, health and leadership. They absorb what information is relevant to their life and act according to their passion and purpose. There was, however, a bit of truth in the anti-self development writers and that’s the characteristic of no action. Are you that person? Are you soaking up personal development material and still unwilling to step outside that comfort zone?

If you’ve read my posts or other personal growth material, how’s that going for you? Have you put it into action? Or, are you just thinking about it while you read more books, satisfied with the status quo? A step towards personal growth starts by getting outside your comfort zone.

“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Acting on what you comprehend is key to personal growth. You can read the most excellent quotes, insightful books and witty blogs on earth, but without action on your understanding, you just have a lot of consumed knowledge. Successful, joyful people are known for keeping their mind open to trying new things and then doing them. They take risks, believe in their dreams and aren’t afraid to act on what they’ve learned.

I was guilty of this practice years ago. I was so excited about improving my life, that I’d read an excellent book, take notes on it, then neatly tuck them away on my night stand. There! That feels better! I read a book, even wrote some notes; put a check in the box. I noticed a few changes, but nothing significant. It wasn’t until I allowed myself to let go and actually act on this knowledge, did I see amazing results. I wasn’t as caught up in being constantly perfect. More business fell into my lap. People were thanking me for my coaching and insight. My insight? All I did was read a book or ten, stray outside my comfort zone and act on knowledge. I did something anyone could do.

So it’s time for a checkup. Have you strayed outside that comfort zone yet? Have you acted on some fantastic knowledge lately, or are you just complacent? Are you noticing the difference you envision? If not, it’s time to act. Today.

Diversity Perspectives

Choosy minds choose choice

In 1995 the movie, Dangerous Minds starring Michelle Pfeiffer, was released. It’s based on a true story of an ex-marine teacher struggling to teach a hodge podge of teenagers from various ethnic and low-income backgrounds in an inner city school. I love good mentor movies and this is one of my favorites. Picture a bunch of bored, unruly teenagers in a classroom while Michelle’s character, Louanne, is trying to teach poetry. One irate student mumbles under his breath that he has no choice being stuck in class.

Louanne: Nobody’s forcing you to be here. You have a choice. You can stay, or you can leave.
Student: Lady, why are you playin’ this game? We don’t have a choice.
Louanne: You don’t have a choice? You don’t have a choice on whether or not you’re here?
Student: No. lf we leave, we don’t get to graduate. lf we stay, we gotta put up with you.
Louanne: Well, that’s a choice, isn’t it? You have a choice. You either don’t graduate or you have to put up with me. lt may not be a choice you like, but it is a choice.

What a great illustration on choice. In fact, it was this movie scene that changed my views on using the power of choice. How many times have we been in situations and thought “I had to do this, I had no choice!” “He gave me no choice but to…” Let’s take this a little further.


Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice. — Wayne Dyer

You choose:

To be angry. Someone betrayed your trust. They cut you off in traffic. He embarrassed you in the meeting. She insulted your goldfish. No matter what someone did to you, you have full control of your reaction. They didn’t make you do anything. Your kids didn’t make you scream at them. Your friend didn’t force you to hang up the phone angrily. Humans are wired for various emotions including anger, but it’s our choice to control it. Let’s say you’re in the heat of the moment, really upset, maybe even shouting and your phone rings. Do you answer HELLO$$##@%!?!??! or, do you compose yourself first and then answer? In that moment, you executed the power of choice and quelled your anger for a brief moment. It can be done.

To be offended. This is a tough one. You know the old adage about the school bully? If you don’t let the bully’s words and actions bother you, pretty soon he moves on because you’re not reacting. Being offended is somewhat similar. Whether it’s through media or another person, you have the choice to turn away from it. If it’s music, change the channel. If it’s a book, don’t buy it. If it’s a person, nod, smile and remember they’re human too and make mistakes. You have excellent qualities and the offensive person has yet to recognize them. Being offended is based on culture as well, which further proves it’s a choice. The typical two finger “V” sign in the United States means ‘peace’ and is a welcoming gesture. Use that same gesture in England and you’ve appalled someone. Words, gestures and actions are what we make of it. If we choose to take offense to everything, it’s going to be a tough go at life. Especially when many people inadvertently offend others. If we let many things fall to the side and learn for next time, it’s going to be a rewarding experience.

To be happy. Depending on your current state of mind, this may not come easy. There were times in my past where I thought this wasn’t an option. I felt I had no choice but to have negative feelings. When opened up to the power of choice, everything changes including your life perspective. On the flip side of anger, no one can make you happy. Not your spouse, not your kids, not your best friend. Do you know someone who “has it all” yet still feels empty? What about the friend with the nice house, fast car and perfect kids? Are they truly happy? I know people who have all these things and more and they have a great deal of joy in life. That’s because they chose to. They chose to grow personally, work on their relationships and live their passion in life. I also know people of meager surroundings who are full of happiness thanking their higher power for every blessing they have. Whether you have riches in your bank account or not, outside forces do not choose your happiness. You do. It’s an inside job that only you were hired to take care of.

Choice is a powerful force to be reckoned with. You have that power. With one choice you can change how your day will be. With one change of mind, that person will never offend you again. One tweak to a perspective and you start living a joyful life again. One choice means you display compassion rather than anger toward your kids. The opportunities are endless. If you have nothing else, you always have choice. Use it wisely.

P.S. Yes, I referenced a peanut butter commercial in my title. 🙂

(Photo by:

Leadership Tales from the Cube

Change your input. Change your life.

There’s a great quote from author Charlie “tremendous” Jones. “You are the same today that you are going to be five years from now except for two things: the people with whom you associate and the books you read.” When I first heard this, I thought, “There’s no way that’s true. There are so many other factors.” After hearing it a few more times and reading Charlie’s Life is Tremendous book, I had to agree. I agree because I’m living proof.

Many moons ago, I made drastic changes in my life. I was unsatisfied with my negative relationships and felt like I wasn’t living life. I was just surviving. I looked five years down the road and didn’t see much change there either. Was this it? Was this as good as it’d get? Don’t think so. I wasn’t about to keep living an unfulfilled life by not pursuing my passions. This was my life!

It was time to funnel better input into my life. I made the decision to fade from negative people’s lives and gain new, fulfilling information. I joined a leadership development group, L.I.F.E., began associating with positive-minded people and picked up books that guided my growth. Not long after this decision, the funniest thing happened. I became happier! Just two changes; association and reading habits, began the transformation.


Your relationships
If you really want to grow personally and professionally, you may have to re-evaluate your relationships. Acquaintances, friends, colleagues, partners and family members can support or stifle your pursuit of a better life. Most will do it indirectly. My nephew-“in-law” recently decided to join the police force much to the dismay of many naysayers whom he called his friends. My supportive and loving niece encouraged him until he made the decision and took control of his destiny. It’s his passion, not his friends’. It’s his life, not his colleagues’.

Limiting your exposure to stifling people isn’t easy, but it is essential if you’re going to carry out your goals. They may be your childhood best friend, your boss or cousin. When you surround yourself with positive, supportive folks, you’ll find it easier to accomplish those goals you’ve put off. You’re now creating an encouraging, motivating and hopeful environment. Supportive environment = favorable future.

If you’re in situations where you can’t avoid toxic people, protecting your dream is of the utmost importance. Don’t allow someone to stomp all over your dream. Your dream is what makes you, you. It makes you tick, it makes you passionate and it makes you alive. Why in the world would you let someone take that from you? What’s my method for toxic naysayers? Either nod and smile, or literally walk away and pray they find something that allows them to feel purposeful in life.



Your books
Read any good books lately? Maybe it depends on your definition of ‘good’. Does your reading material bring you closer or further from your goal? Is it part of your growth or merely a distraction? Does it teach you or just entertain you? If you’re not where you envisioned in life, good books are key in guiding you down the right path. I’ll be honest. I’ve glanced at a few cat videos and flipped through fashion magazines. But since I don’t plan to make a life out of creating fashion for felines, they’re just distractions.

Be choosy in what you fill your head with. Books on your field of study, career path or personal growth are good places to start. Once you’re hooked on pursuing your purpose, nothing will get in your way. If your passion is truly your purpose, you’ll feel alive every minute you spend time on it. It won’t feel like a dreaded chore. It surely won’t make you feel guilty for wasting your time. You’ll smile because you’re taking one more step toward your ideal life.

These two simple techniques may seem difficult at first, but if you change the input flowing into your head and heart, you’ll be amazed at what comes out. You’ll notice those once unsupportive people are impressed with your new-found joy. And just maybe you’ll be an inspiration to them in pursuing their once-lost goals. One never knows until they try.


Inspirational Seconds

Michelle’s chair

The work day was extremely chaotic — deadlines, rushes, caffeine-induced colleagues, phone calls and emails-by-the-second. You know, the usual day at the office. The work kept coming long after I powered down the Mac. I was glad to head to my hair appointment. I could relax, chat with a new stylist and walk out looking fab. It wasn’t until I sat in Michelle’s chair that I took a deep breath. The day had flown by and I barely had a chance to think. What in the world happened to the day? The only parts I could recall were work, deadlines, work, clients, work. But there was so much more. It was in Michelle’s cushy chair I was able to stop and think about all the wonderful highlights to be thankful for.

Today, a long-time friend confided in me looking for advice. We go way back and have a tight, trusted bond.
I’m grateful for his friendship and trust. I’m thankful for my ability to uplift someone who needs it.

Remember Cassie from my post “Good Things Coming”? She needed a little extra push in faith and I was happy to oblige her.
I appreciate her trust and positive attitude. I’m glad to share my knowledge and experiences.

I met with a colleague (who you’ll hear more about) who’s interested in going full steam ahead in improving her life.
I’m thankful for her inspiration and trust. I’m grateful for having the coaching skills to help guide her.

I appreciate my boyfriend who helped me around the house and just got me a tasty glass of cranberry juice while I write this. Yeah, he’s awesome.
I’m glad to have his love and support. I appreciate my pursuit of constant improvement in relationships.

Have you stopped lately and thought of what you’re grateful for in others and yourself? Why don’t you do it right now? You don’t need Michelle’s chair. You don’t need 45 minutes to think about it. Just run them through your head and let them bring a smile to your heart. You’ll be thankful you did.

“Rest and be thankful.” ― William Wordsworth

Leadership Tales from the Cube

Brighter rooms ahead

You’ve seen it. Some people brighten a room when they enter it; others when they leave. This points directly to attitude and presence. On the heels of my Thermolicious post, I felt to back up to the point before you even enter the room or conversation. This pertains to any social or professional setting, but today we’ll use it in on the job.

What NOT to do


Darkeners walk into a room with a sour face filled with nothing positive to say. They bring the rain clouds and shower everyone with gloom. Complaining, criticizing and condemning are on their agenda. There’s no light, no warmth. People put on jackets because the feeling they bring is so chilly. Bleck.

What TO do


Brighteners walk into the room with a bright smile and a spring in their step. They readily greet others and bring a sense of comfort to the room. They’re complimenting and encouraging others. The light they emit is refreshing and contagious. The room is so bright, everyone’s putting on shades. Nice.

People like being around those that bring out the best in them. I’m sure you do too. Don’t you just love those times you’re having a chaotic day and someone walks in with a smile and nice compliment for you? It may not instantly change your situation, but I’d bet it makes you feel a bit better. You hold your head a little higher and enjoy their warm presence. You can easily be that person for others. Being a Brightener doesn’t mean you have to know everyone or be a chatterbox. A simple smile, a pat on the back or a compliment goes a long way.

I’m a social creature, so I like uplifting people. When I learned this technique, I make it a habit every time I’m in a meeting or social gathering. Several days ago, after a meeting, one colleague made it a point to say “Kristie, you always bring radiance to the room”.  That’s when I responded with “Some people brighten a room when they enter it; others when they leave.” He nodded and smiled. Next time, I know he’ll do the same.

Attitudes are catchy. Do you want people to catch yours?